Crohn’s disease, a type of chronic inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), is estimated to affect more than half a million people in the United States, and millions more worldwide—with the number of diagnosed cases increasing over time.* Characterized as a chronic disease, Crohn’s is lifelong and there is currently no cure.
North Allegheny Senior High School junior Prabhath Pullabhotla saw firsthand the debilitating effects of this illness on friends and family members. These experiences, coupled with a globally low awareness of Crohn’s disease and its symptoms among the general public, inspired Pullabhotla to make a difference by starting The Crohn’s Care Alliance in May 2023.
“I have close family members and friends who suffer from Crohn’s disease. When they first started having symptoms of the disease, they did not realize it was Crohn’s and just thought they had a small stomach ache or were sick. They only realized a while later that they had Crohn’s and were suffering from its common symptoms,” Pullabhotla said. “This is why the goal of the nonprofit is to educate and raise awareness of Crohn’s disease: so people can understand and recognize whether a family member or close friend has the disease early on, [and] get the treatment they need as soon as possible.”
Pullabhotla currently runs the nonprofit with four student volunteers: Anant Palve, Harsh Kumar, Venkatesh Subramanyam and Ridhvik Rajeshekar. Like Pullabhotla, Palve and Rajeshekar attend North Allegheny Senior High School; Kumar attends Penn State University, and Subramanyam is at the University of Pittsburgh. The team of five is passionate about raising awareness about Crohn’s disease and helping to make a difference in the lives of those affected, both directly and indirectly.
The group began raising funds for the nonprofit by selling bracelets door-to-door. As the nonprofit grows, they aim to hold educational seminars, organize fundraisers to support Crohn’s disease research, and host events to raise awareness and ensure the disease gains more attention.
“Crohn’s disease is currently incurable, and creating a nonprofit that is dedicated to creating awareness and raising money can help fund the research on the disease, which can help find a cure, which is a big inspiration,” Pullabhotla said.
At less than a year old, The Crohn’s Care Alliance is still in its youth, but the team has high aspirations. Pullabhotla cites lack of recognition as one of the greatest challenges to the organization, but gaining legal nonprofit status and raising awareness will help accelerate their work.
“One proud moment from my work with [The Crohn’s Care Alliance] is that the program is slowly starting up and is getting closer to my final goal of becoming an international nonprofit, which is very exciting and motivating for me,” Pullabhotla said.
To learn more and/or support The Crohn’s Care Alliance, please visit Humanitarian Social Innovations: https://www.flipcause.com/secure/cause_pdetails/MTg4MDM0#
*National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/crohns-disease/definition-facts#:~:text=Researchers%20estimate%20that%20more%20than,United%20States%20have%20Crohn’s%20disease.